Objective: To investigate the effectiveness of a multifaceted hand hygiene program involving the use of pocket-sized containers of antiseptic gel in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) with elderly residents.
Methods: In this clustered randomized controlled trial, Hong Kong LTCFs for elderly persons were recruited via snowball sampling. Staff hand hygiene adherence was directly observed, and residents' infections necessitating hospitalization were recorded. After a 3-month preintervention period, LTCFs were randomized to receive pocket-sized containers of alcohol-based gel, reminder materials, and education for all HCWs (treatment group) or to receive basic life support education and workshops for all healthcare workers (HCWs) (control group). A 2-week intervention period (April 1-15, 2007) was followed by 7 months of postintervention observations.
Results: In the 3 treatment LTCFs, adherence to hand rubbing increased from 5 (1.5%) of 333 to 233 (15.9%) of 1,465 hand hygiene opportunities (P = .001)and total hand hygiene adherence increased from 86 (25.8%) of 333 to 488 (33.3%) of 1,465 opportunities (P = .01)after intervention; the 3 control LTCFs showed no significant change. In the treatment group, the incidence of serious infections decreased from 31 cases in 21,862 resident-days (1.42 cases per 1,000 resident-days) to 33 cases in 50,441 resident-days (0.65 cases per 1,000 resident-days) (P = .002), whereas in the control group, it increased from 16 cases in 32,726 resident-days (0.49 cases per 1,000 resident-days) to 85 cases in 81,177 resident-days (1.05 cases per 1,000 resident-days) (P = .004]). In the treatment group, the incidence of pneumonia decreased from 0.91 to 0.28 cases per 1,000 resident-days (P = .001) and the death rate due to infection decreased from 0.37 to 0.10 deaths per 1,000 resident-days (P = .01); the control group revealed no significant change.
Conclusions: A hand hygiene program involving the use of pocket-sized containers of antiseptic gel and education could effectively increase adherence to hand rubbing and reduce the incidence of serious infections in LTCFs with elderly residents.